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February & March in the Garden

After a cold start to the year, which I spent ‘gardening’ from indoors, looking through the window and not walking on wet or frosty ground, it was time to get started. I winter pruned the fruit trees and the roses, and tried to protect vulnerable plants, prevent winter damage, look after winter wildlife, and prepare tools and pots for the new season. My husband dug up the small box hedge stumps.

After drought in 2022, and extreme cold that winter, then a warm, wet summer in 2023, we are facing the unpredictable effects of climate change. What are the potential trends for 2024?

Houseplants create an indoor green space extending out in urban areas, to green the environment and improve bio-diversity. Eco-friendly gardening encourages sustainability, especially awareness of the importance of peat bogs, not just as carbon sinks, but also because of the unique wildlife. Alternatives to peat-based seed compost can be challenging to use, but there is advice online. We also need to save water, with water butts, drought-resistant plants and mulching.

I am using more native plants and more relaxed planting. I like wildlife gardening, using wildflowers, and longer grass, ponds and bug hotels, which supports birds, pollinating insects, and invertebrates and can be easier to maintain. Others prefer exotic plants and succulents.!

Winter-flowering shrubs need pruning now to ensure flowers next year and evergreen hedges can be pruned. Deciduous grasses should be cut back, and dead grass removed from evergreen grasses.

Now is a good time to repair bare patches of the lawn, especially around the edges, and to check for waterlogging, needing improved drainage. Our lawn needs more than that!

Structures such as paths and pergolas need checking and repairing, and algae should be removed from paths. In March, bush and climbing roses can be pruned to improve health and lifespan.

I want to plant more summer-flowering bulbs in pots or borders, and lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials. Our containers should be topped up with fresh compost and on dry days we can mow the lawn, if it is growing. Cornus and Salix grown for colourful winter stems need to be cut back. Weeds are also growing now, so hoe and mulch to keep them under control.

Godmanchester Garden Club, Monday 12th February and 11th March, all welcome.



This article is reproduced from the St Mary’s church, Godmanchester parish magazine with kind permission of the gardener, Josephine Becker